Interrogating the Germanic: A Category and its Use in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

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Date / time
Date(s) - 13 May - 15 May
12:00 am

The King's Manor, University of York


This two-day conference is on the use of the categorical term ‘Germanic’ – frequently used as a linguistic category, ethnonym, or descriptive identifier for a range of forms of cultural and literary material. Frequently, the term is applied to peoples, languages, and material culture found in non-Roman north-western and central Europe in classical antiquity, and to these phenomena in the western Roman Empire’s successor states. It is often treated as a legitimate, all-encompassing term for the culture of these regions. Its usage is sometimes intended to suggest a shared social identity or ethnic affinity among those who produce these phenomena.

The concept has received substantial critical scrutiny, but discussion on its legitimacy has rarely taken place in a setting dedicated to dialogue and adequate representation of all participants. The few publications directly addressing this question tend to give voice largely to those opposed to the term, and others behave as if its legitimacy is beyond reproach. This conference aims to highlight a longstanding debate for a new generation of scholars by interrogating two opposing schools of thought, and shedding new light on issues manifest in present historical discourse.

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Michael Kulikowski (Pennsylvania State University)

Dr. Philipp von Rummel (German Archaeological Institute)